It is becoming a tradition… Art in the Pearl, the Portland Pearl District art show everyone looks forward to. If you are in the Portland, Oregon area set aside a day during Labor Day Weekend to enjoy juried fine art from near and far. The tented booths are set up in the Northwest Park Blocks in Portland’s Pearl District for shady strolling.

Portland Pearl District Art Show

The venerable Customs House provides a backdrop for Art in the Pearl. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Why this Portland Pearl District Art Show is Special

To me, it’s the quality and variety of art. Offerings range from jewelry to found-art sculptures as well as traditional paintings and photography. Art in the Pearl exists to bring the art and artists in touch with the general public. There is something for everyone in this community event. The art education and demonstration areas draw both artists and newbies. The entertainment stage is dedicated to the region’s top world music performers, and the quality of art improves with each passing year. And there are the usual food booths.

It’s not a huge show, often 100 artists, but the organizers meticulously select the art and ensure that there is a good variety of offerings. And, I like the surprises that each year offers.

Portland Pearl District Art Show

This artist surprised us with a booth full of whimsical multi media pieces. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Enjoying Art in the Pearl

I usually prefer to go the first day of the show and go early. It’s a great time to see all that is offered and, if you go early, you’ll have a better chance to chat with the artists. My art-loving friend and I usually spend a half-day checking out the booths and enjoying the atmosphere.

Portland Pearl District Art Show

The skill (and the humor) of the artists kept drawing me in to the booths. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

I’m not much for festival food so my friend and I look forward to having lunch in a nearby Pearl District eatery. We both are fans of Andina Peruvian Restaurant, known for following the native culinary traditions of Peru, as well as drawing from the contemporary cooking of Peru’s leading chefs. They take traditional regional dishes and add a contemporary twist.

Portland Pearl District Art Show

Andina, a nearby Peruvian Restaurant, serves traditional dishes with contemporary flair is a perfect stop for lunch. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

I love Peruvian chicken dishes so for lunch a good choice is the Ají de Gallina, succulent pulled chicken in a creamy ají amarillo-peanut sauce, served with Yukon Gold potatoes, garlic rice, Botija olives and a hard-boiled egg (I skip the egg!). Andina offers gluten free and vegan/vegetarian options. You can order small plates to share or a multi-course meal.

Portland Pearl District Art Show

Delightful empanadas to share. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The Pearl District

Just 20 years ago The Pearl, as they call it, was a place with rail yards and abandoned warehouses. It wasn’t a place you would go unless you were interested in taking a train from the historic Portland Train Station or, perhaps, stopping by Henry Weinhard’s Brewery.

Portland Pearl District Art Show

A water garden and metal sculpture fill a block between buildings in the Pearl District. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Now the Pearl District is an example of a successful urban renaissance. While you’ll often see vestiges of the brick buildings, practically everything is re-purposed. And what could not be renovated was demolished and simple, modern apartment buildings and shops sprang up. There are world-class galleries, excellent (yet casual) restaurants, specialty shops and public open spaces. It’s an innovative, modern place to explore.

Portland Pearl District Art Show

Once a warehouse, these Pearl District homes are highly sought after. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

My art-lover friend and I often take the MAX light rail to Art in the Pearl and get off at the Old Town/Chinatown stop and walk past the beautiful Lan Su Chinese Garden to the Park Blocks. Magic is happening in Old Town too. There are some interesting boutique hotels and surprising restaurants like Mi Mero Mole, a Mexico City Street Food style eatery.

When You Go To the Portland Pearl District Art Show

Art in the Pearl takes place annually on Labor Day Weekend. Hours are 10 a.m. -6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. – 5p.m. on Monday. You’ll find the show in the Northwest Park blocks of Portland, Oregon, between W Davis and NW Flanders at NW 8th Avenue.

While we enjoy taking the light rail to central west Portland, there is parking available at the following City Center lots: NW Broadway and Couch, NW Park and Gleason, NW 9th and Davis and NW 9th and Couch.

Portland Pearl District Art Show

Art can be functional too. These little glasses would be ideal for wine or juice. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

This Portland Pearl District Art Show is worth marking on your calendar and may be a reason in itself for a visit to Portland on Labor Day Weekend.

For more information on things to do and see in Portland, visit Travel Portland.





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